It may be a surprise to some that the gender pay gap still exists.
Many of us assume that gender inequality has been overcome in Australia. That might be true in some respects, but unfortunately not where income is concerned.
The fact is, on average, women still earn 15.3% less than men – a gap that has barely changed for 20 years.
What is the gender pay gap in Australia?
A simple definition of the gender pay gap is, “the difference between the average salary earned by men in Australia versus the average salary received by women”.
The current difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time earnings is 15.3% in favour of men.
Over the past two decades, Australia’s national pay gap has been between 15% and 19% with just marginal improvement. Since May 2016, it’s gone down by only 0.9%.
The 2017 Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) report states women’s average weekly full-time wages across all occupations was $1,387.10 compared to men’s average full-time wages of $1,638.30.
Why is there a pay gap between men and women?
There’s no quick fix and no single reason why the pay gap exists. It’s a complex topic our policymakers continue to struggle with. Here are just some of the causes:
- Men and women still work in gender-biased industries, and female-dominated industries or jobs often have lower average wages
- Bias and discrimination in recruitment and pay decisions
- Women, on average, handle a disproportionate share of unpaid care and domestic work
- Lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate care and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles, meaning women often miss out on higher positions (and salaries)
- Women tend to spend more time out of the workforce having children which can impact their career progression compared to men
ATO income data showing the gender pay gap
Looking at ATO data on income, our people noticed an interesting way to visualise the annual income discrepancy between women and men…
Our earlier infographic about gender inequality
Some of our tax accountants say they’re surprised to see that the gender pay gap remains so high.
The presence of Australia’s own Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) does not seem to be turning things around.
The Agency itself comments that,
…women continue to earn less than men, are less likely to advance their careers as far as men, and are more likely to spend their final years in poverty.”
That statement is backed up by figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. In fact, late last year the ABC reported that while women’s education has increased over the past two decades, the gender pay gap hasn’t budged.
How can we address the gender pay gap?
Many employers think it’s a non-issue in their business and in some instances might not realise that they’re are guilty of advancing the problem.
Ultimately, employers need to step up, analyse their own pay data and processes, then commit to removing any gender bias in their business.
The WGEA encourages employers to address pay equity by following their process of:
- Understand what gender pay gap is
- Build a business case for your organisation
- Gain leadership commitment
- Analyse your pay data
- Action, strategy and review
- Pay equity leadership